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The Four Big Marijuana Elections This November

marijuana legalization

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This November over 14 million American voters will have a chance to directly weigh in on the issue of marijuana reform. Alaska, Oregon, Florida, and the District of Columbia all have hugely significant marijuana measures on the ballot.

1) Alaska – Ballot Measure 2, Marijuana Legalization – This measure is very closely modeled after the legalization law in Colorado. It will legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over. Adults would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. The state would also create a system of regulating marijuana businesses that would be overseen by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Marijuana would be taxed at a rate of $50 per ounce.

There has been very little public polling on it in Alaska, which is a notoriously difficult state to poll. The only recent poll was a PPP survey from two months ago that found it trailing 45 percent to 49 percent.

2) Oregon – Initiative 91, Marijuana Legalization – This initiative is fairly similar to the new law in Colorado. It would legalize for adults 21 and over growing up to four plants and possessing up to eight ounces of marijuana in their homes. Adults would be able to purchase up to an ounce from licensed marijuana stores which would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. This marijuana would face an excise tax of $35 per ounce.

All public polls have found the initiative ahead but sometimes by only a fairly small margin. The latest SurveyUSA poll found it at 44 percent yes to 40 percent no.  Having at least one of these two statewide marijuana legalization initiatives succeed would be very important for maintaining national momentum for reform going into 2016 when reform organizations are planning a big push in half a dozen states.

CommunityJust Say Now

The Four Big Marijuana Elections This November

marijuana legalization

This November over 14 million American voters will have a chance to directly weigh in on the issue of marijuana reform. Alaska, Oregon, Florida, and the District of Columbia all have hugely significant marijuana measures on the ballot.

1) Alaska – Ballot Measure 2, Marijuana Legalization – This measure is very closely modeled after the legalization law in Colorado. It will legalize, tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over. Adults would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. The state would also create a system of regulating marijuana businesses that would be overseen by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Marijuana would be taxed at a rate of $50 per ounce.

There has been very little public polling on it in Alaska, which is a notoriously difficult state to poll. The only recent poll was a PPP survey from two months ago that found it trailing 45 percent to 49 percent.

2) Oregon – Initiative 91, Marijuana Legalization – This initiative is fairly similar to the new law in Colorado. It would legalize for adults 21 and over growing up to four plants and possessing up to eight ounces of marijuana in their homes. Adults would be able to purchase up to an ounce from licensed marijuana stores which would be regulated by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. This marijuana would face an excise tax of $35 per ounce.

All public polls have found the initiative ahead but sometimes by only a fairly small margin. The latest SurveyUSA poll found it at 44 percent yes to 40 percent no.  Having at least one of these two statewide marijuana legalization initiatives succeed would be very important for maintaining national momentum for reform going into 2016 when reform organizations are planning a big push in half a dozen states.

3) District of Columbia – Initiative 71, Limited Marijuana Legalization – This measure would only allow adults 21 and over to legally possess up to two ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants at home. Selling  marijuana would remain illegal. Because of laws governing D.C.’s initiative process, the campaign was forced to leave out tax and regulate provisions, but the D.C. Council is open to adopting these provisions if the voters support the initiative.

The people of the District are expected to overwhelmingly support the initiative with the latest poll showing 65 percent support, but the deeply unfair rules governing D.C. allow Congress to override any local laws in the District. Congress previously used this power to stop a medical marijuana initiative in the 90’s and could do it again. If Congress tries to interfere this time it could quickly nationalize this local fight for legalization.

4) Florida – Amendment 2, Medical Marijuana – The amendment would allow patients with “debilitating diseases” to legally access marijuana with the recommendation of doctor. It would create a registration system for patients and allow the establishment of treatment centers. The Florida Department of Health would be responsible for regulating it.

A clear a majority of people in Florida support medical marijuana, but Florida’s unusual ballot rules require the amendment to get a supermajority of at least 60 percent to be approved. Polling has found the amendment is right on the cusp of this threshold. Both the campaign for and against are planning to spend millions to try to sway the few remaining undecideds.

If this amendment wins Florida would be the first Southern state with a true medical marijuana system. It could potentially even be the tipping point in the national debate over medical marijuana given the state’s huge population and importance as the biggest Presidential swing state.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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